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Judge Orders Release of Guantanamo Detainee

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 31, 2009; 5:19 PM

A federal judge today ordered the release of detainee who has provided incriminating information against scores of other men confined at the U.S. military prison at U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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In a one page order, U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle ordered the government "take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate the release" of Yasim Muhammed Basardah, 33. The judge did not explain the ruling, which came after a review of classified records and a sealed court hearing today.

Steve Sady, one of Basardah's attorneys, said, "We are very gratified" by the ruling. But he said he could not comment further because the decision involved "classified and sealed proceedings."

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said government lawyers were reviewing the order. He declined to comment further.

Basardah is not likely to be released anytime soon. He is a native of Yemen, and the government has expressed concerns about sending people back to that country. Twelve other Yemenis have been cleared for release but remain at Guantanamo Bay. Basardah spent many years in Saudi Arabia but was exiled from that nation in 1995 after being arrested eight times, military records show.

Attorneys for other detainees have long complained about Basardah. He has provided information incriminating dozens of other prisoners, alleging that they trained at al-Qaeda camps, fought against U.S. troops in Afghanistan at Tora Bora or were Osama bin Laden's body guards, records show. But his credibility has been called into question by military officials since at least 2004. And another federal judge said he could not rely on Basardah's word to justify the detention of another prisoner.

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